Editor’s Note: Last week we announced Microsoft YouthSpark a new company wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people. A key part of YouthSpark is the work we are doing with nonprofit organizations focused on helping young people access education, employment and entrepreneurship.  Globally, our nonprofit cash grant recipients have been carefully selected with a focus on these specific outcomes. In the United States we’ll be focusing the majority of our nonprofit cash grants on five national nonprofit partners Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Junior Achievement, NFTE and Year Up. We wanted to share how they will be working as part of YouthSpark and today Amy Rosen, President and CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) shares her perspective.

By Amy Rosen, President and CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is thrilled to join Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative. For 25 years, NFTE has been inspiring young people to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures. We, like Microsoft, are committed to empowering youth to imagine and experience the promise of the future. NFTE’s maturing partnership with Microsoft will help to facilitate the expansion of these opportunities for young people domestically and globally.

Meeting our goal to reach an additional 500,000 young people in the next five years, which will double the reach of our first 25 years, will require an entire new approach to our work and program. To achieve this goal, NFTE is undergoing an ambitious transformation that will enhance our impact, particularly related to creating opportunity for at-risk youth in a technology-enabled economy.

A critical component of this change is NFTE’s vision that all young people can develop an entrepreneurial mindset and therefore be better prepared to participate in the formal economy as business owners or productive members of the workforce. Building an entrepreneurial mindset in young people is exactly what our work with Microsoft will accomplish.

NFTE’s World Series of Innovation, which is presented by Microsoft, is a fun, experiential project-based activity that inspires young people worldwide to think creatively and invent new products or services that address everyday needs. This year, in honor of our 25th anniversary, we expect to have submissions from 25 countries. In addition, on September 29th, NFTE will host Innovation Saturday events across the country to bring this exciting opportunity to many more young people. Using the award-winning NFTE curriculum and innovation activities provided with the World Series of Innovation toolkit, teams of at least two or more students will select a challenge category, brainstorm ideas, and work to complete all phases of the submission form. Before and during Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov 6 – 16) you will be able to vote for the winners at www.innovation.nfte.com. Head to the website now if you know a young person who’d like to participate or a teacher who might want to use the project in their classroom.

NFTE

NYC Generation Tech students brainstorming logo ideas

Leveraging technology for learning is another key component of our expanded Microsoft partnership. In the coming year, we will build the foundation for the NFTE Digital Classroom to connect NFTE classrooms, provide opportunities for nationwide collaboration, and create new digital content, enhancing our efforts to bring the highest quality entrepreneurship education program to many more at-risk young people.

Additionally, Microsoft will help NFTE launch two new pilot programs that link entrepreneurship education and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education more explicitly. The first, NFTE Math being piloted in D.C., aligns NFTE’s proven curriculum with 7th Grade Core Standards. Through the highly engaging lens of entrepreneurship, struggling math students will work through a program designed to support common core math standards. Recent research indicates the achievement gap for students becomes most apparent in middle school, and our math program will allow us to reach these at-risk students sooner while linking math to a real world, relevant experience.

Generation Tech NYC, a New York City pilot program also supported by Microsoft, is a launching pad for cultivating the next generation of home-grown, technology literate, entrepreneurial citizens who will thrive in New York City's growing tech startup sector. By working through either the development of a mobile or tablet app and the business plan for that product simultaneously, NFTE is using the lean start up mentality to show young people exactly what it is like to be a technology entrepreneur in today’s marketplace.

Instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in all young people is critical for success in a global economy. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is committed to giving at-risk youth around the world the opportunity to flourish, and we are proud to partner with Microsoft’s YouthSpark. This collaboration represents how corporations and organizations can harness their strengths to collectively make an impact for the future.